The Washington Capitals are off to a 5-7-0 start even with captain Alex Ovechkin scoring 10 goals. What will they be like without him? We'll find out Friday night.
The Capitals complete a five-game road trip with a visit to the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), but Ovechkin won't be with them. Ovechkin skated Thursday but will miss the game due to an upper-body injury sustained in a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
The Flyers, who are trying to bounce back from a 3-2 home loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, won't be sorry Ovechkin is sitting this one out. In 29 regular-season games against Philadelphia, Ovechkin has 24 goals and 39 points.
Here's a look at all the action on a busy Friday:
Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers -- The Capitals need a victory to go home with a winning road trip; they defeated the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers before losing to the Calgary Flames and the Canucks, a game in which they were outshot 41-19. Coach Adam Oates said Ovechkin might be ready to play Saturday, when the Capitals host the Florida Panthers. Philadelphia, which has lost eight of its first 11 games, brought back forward Steve Downie in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, sending Maxime Talbot to the Central Division leaders. Downie was a first-round pick by the Flyers in 2005 but was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning three years later.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins -- These teams play about 160 miles from each other, but they've been in opposite conferences until realignment this summer put them into the new Metropolitan Division. After never playing each other more than twice in a season, they'll face off on back-to-back nights. Columbus has had four days off since a 4-3 home loss to Anaheim dropped the Blue Jackets to 5-6-0. Pittsburgh has taken firm command of the division race with a 9-4-0 record and is coming off an emotional 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes -- After going 5-2-0 on a seven-game homestand, the Lightning managed one goal and 17 shots in a 2-1 loss at the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Brett Connolly, the team's 2010 first-round pick, got the call from Norfolk of the American Hockey League after coach Jon Cooper was unhappy with his team's play in Newark. For the Hurricanes, this is the second game in a stretch of seven of eight at home. They signed veteran center Manny Malhotra on Thursday but are without their top two goaltenders, Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, due to lower-body injuries.
New York Islanders at Ottawa Senators -- The newest Islander, forward Thomas Vanek, should be very familiar with the Senators; he spent his career with Ottawa's longtime division rival, the Buffalo Sabres, before coming to Long Island in a trade Sunday. Vanek and new linemates John Tavares and Kyle Okposo are getting used to one another; they did little in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The Senators have lost three in a row, but playing the Islanders has historically been a cure-all: Ottawa is 5-0-3 in its past eight games against New York and 51-17-11-4 all-time.
St. Louis Blues at Florida Panthers -- These teams are concluding their two-game season series; the Blues routed the Panthers 7-0 on the first Saturday of the season. St. Louis begins a three-game trip after beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 Tuesday on a last-minute goal by Alexander Steen, whose 11 goals lead the NHL and are three more than he scored all last season. The Panthers are completing a six-game homestand in which they are 1-2-2; they've been off since Sunday, when they overcame a 3-1 third-period deficit against the Tampa Bay Lightning only to lose 4-3 in a shootout.
Montreal Canadiens at Minnesota Wild -- This is the sixth visit by the Canadiens to Xcel Energy Center since the Wild entered the NHL in 2000; Montreal has won three of the first five. The Canadiens will have at least a few fans among the 18,000 or so in the crowd; the fathers of the players are making the weekend trip to Minnesota and Colorado. The Wild expect to get center Charlie Coyle and defenseman Keith Ballard back from injury. Minnesota spent practice Thursday working with revised lines; No. 1 center Mikko Koivu was between Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Brodziak, a combination the team's website said appears likely to remain intact Friday.
Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars -- Maxime Talbot is expected to make his debut with the Avalanche after being acquired from Philadelphia on Thursday for Steve Downie. Talbot might play as a wing with Nathan MacKinnon and Jamie McGinn, or he might center Colorado’s fourth line, joining Cody McLeod and Patrick Bordeleau. Either way, Talbot is going from a team that lost eight of its first 11 games to one that is 10-1-0. Dallas is home after splitting a pair of one-goal decisions, beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 and losing 2-1 at the Montreal Canadiens. The Stars are 3-1-1 at American Airlines Center despite going 0-for-16 on the power play at home.
Detroit Red Wings at Calgary Flames -- The Red Wings reverted to their persona as a puck-possession team in the opener of a trip through Western Canada, limiting the Vancouver Canucks to 20 shots in a 2-1 victory. Daniel Alfredsson has goals in back-to-back games for Detroit after scoring once in his first 11 games with the Red Wings. The Flames are coming off a game when they did a lot of things right but managed two goals on 43 shots in a 4-2 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Joey MacDonald, acquired by Calgary on waivers from Detroit last season, makes his first start in four games when he takes the ice against his old team.